Not long ago, on the way to a Katz Roadshow event in southern California, Scott Wells and I stopped off to visit an old friend of mine—Mark Martinez. I’ve known Mark for nearly twenty years; yet I’ve never really known him, not until he visited my place just a week before we toured his facility.
Mark’s been swinging hammers since the summer of 1970.
He first started producing Stiletto titanium hammers in 2000, but by then he’d been making hammers for ten years. I met ‘The Man’ sometime around 2002, at a JLC Live show. I asked if he’d be willing to support the Katz Roadshow—Mike Sloggatt and I really wanted to use his tools. I still have the first hammer Mark sent me.
After that meeting, I rarely spoke to him again. And that’s a cryin’ shame. Back then Mark had a sales manager that handled marketing, and I worked with him for several years.
I’m telling this story not because I want to talk about me but because I want folks to know Mark. He’s a true dinosaur. He’s from the same time zone as Larry Haun, as Will Holladay, as Craig Savage. And Mark is still working hard. He doesn’t know what stop or slow means. But he did cut a lucky break: In 2007 he sold Stiletto to TTI, which owns Milwaukee Tool. For the next five years, Mark fulfilled his contractual obligation and worked for Milwaukee. But in 2012 he went his own way and started planting almond trees in Central California.
Of course, it wasn’t long before he found himself standing in the aisle of a tool store, holding a new hammer in his hand, mumbling: “Boy, I can make a much better hammer than this piece of crap!” He even remembers the exact day: February 22, 2015.
At the Portland JLC Live show that year, I met Mark again; this time he was holding a Martinez hammer! Like I said, he doesn’t know slow. We promised we’d stay in touch and we did, thankfully, because we have a lot in common. We are exactly the same age, and we’re both blind in our left eye—Mark from a grazed nail, me from a bungee cord. But we have even more in common—we share the same history of coming up in the trades the hard way.
Today, with the help of a truly savvy engineer—Jim Aikins—the same man who worked with Mark on the original Stiletto tool line, Mark continues to make extraordinarily innovative tools for progressive carpenters.
One thing I really love about Mark is that there’s no ego there—he’s always giving credit to the folks who helped him, especially Jim—a third-generation hands-on engineer who attended the same engineering program at Oregon State as his father and grandfather. Not only does Jim design the tools and much of the production machinery, but he builds it himself.
I hope you’ll watch the TiC tour video. And I hope you walk away feeling like you know Mark Martinez a little better. He’s a man worth knowing. Visit martineztools.com to learn more about Mark’s work.